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3 Overview of Proposed System

3.1 Motivations: Advantages of Smart Environment

The main objective of our system is to create a smart interactive education environment to support real-time collaboration and active interaction between educators and learners. Via special prisms, i.e. mobile devices or AR glasses, both educators and learners are linked to the virtual learning environment with real-time communication and interactions. Our proposed system has the following main characteristics:

1. Interactivity: Learners and educators can interact with augmented content, including multimedia and social media, or interact with others via augmented activities, such as exercises or discussion.

2. Personalization: Augmented content and activities can be adapted to each learner to provide the learner with the most appropriate, individualized learning paradigm. The adaptation can be in active or passive modes. In active mode, each learner can customize which types of augmented content and activities that he or she wants to explore or participate. In passive mode, an educator can individualize teaching materials to meet the progress, knowledge level, personal skills and attitudes of each learner.

3. Feedback: Interactive feedbacks from learners can be used to help an educator redesign existing teaching materials or design future teaching activities. Besides, feedbacks of a learner can also be used to analyze his or her personal interests, knowledge level, personal skills and attitudes toward certain types of activities in learning.

4. Tracking: The progress of a learner or a group of learners can be monitored so that an educator can keep track of the performance of each individual or a group.

3.2 Typical Scenarios of Usage for an Educator

The proposed system provides an educator with the following main functions:

1. Design augmented content and activities for lectures

2. Personalize or customize augmented content and activities for each learner or a group of learners

3. Monitor feedbacks and progress of each learner or a group of learners

The first step to create an AR-supported lecture is to design augmented content and activities for lectures. Lecture documents in each course include textbooks, reference books, and other printed materials. An educator can now freely design lectures with attached augmented materials (including multimedia, social media, or activities) that can be revised and updated over terms/semesters, specialized for different classes in different programs such as regular or honors program, and adapted to different languages. Because of wide variety of attached augmented media and activities, an educator can customize a curriculum and teaching strategies to deliver a lecture.

An educator uses our system to design augmented content (including multimedia objects or activities) for a lecture and assigns such content to link with a specific region in a printed page of a lecture note/textbook (c.f. Figure 1). Augmented media are not only traditional multimedia contents, such as images, 3D models, videos, and audios, but also social media contents or activities, such as different types of exercises, an URL to a reference document, or a discussion thread in an online forum, etc.

Fig. 1. Design augmented content for printed lecture notes and textbooks

For a specific page, an educator first selects a graphical region that can visually attract learners attention, and links it to augmented contents, either resources or activities. The system automatically learns features to recognize the selected graphical region together with embedded resources to a remote server. An educator can also design different sets of augmented contents for the same printed teaching materials for different groups of learners in the same class, or for classes in classes in different programs, to utilize various teaching strategies and learning paradigms.

After designing AR-supported teaching materials, an educator can interact with learners via augmented activities during a course. Useful information on learners activities and interactions are delivered to an educator so that the educator can keep track of the progress of a learner or a group of learners, update and customize augmented resources or activities to meet learners expectation or level of knowledge, and redesign the teaching materials for future classes.

3.3 Typical Scenarios of Usage for a Learner

A learner can use a mobile device or smart glasses to see pages in a textbook, a reference book, or a printed lecture handout. Upon receiving the visual information that a learner is looking at, the server finds the best match (c.f. Section 4). Then the system transforms the reality in front of the learners eyes into an augmented world with linked media or activities. Dynamic augmented contents that match a learners personal profile and preferences are downloaded from the server and displayed on the learners mobile device screen or glasses(c.f. Figure 2)..

Fig. 2. Learners use the proposed system

Learners can interact with these virtual objects with their bare hands. Skin detection algorithm is used to enable learners use their bare hands to interact with virtual objects appearing in front of their eyes. An event corresponding to a virtual object is generated if that object is occluded by a human skin color object long enough.

Fig. 3. Interaction and feedback

Learners can add a new virtual note or comment to a specific part of a printed lecture and share with others. They can also do exercises embedded virtually as an augmented content linked to printed lecture notes. When learners use this system, their behaviors are captured as implicit feedbacks to the educator (c.f. Figure 3). An educator can now analyze learners behaviors and intention to adjust teaching materials to well adapt to each learner of a group. With collaborative filtering methods, the system can recommend to educators which types of augmented content are appropriate for a specific learner based on learners profiles.

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